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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Mechanisms and Threads

  • Author(s): Snow, Richard
  • Advisor(s): Manoury, Philippe
  • et al.

Mechanisms and Threads is a series of four related compositions. The first project, titled Labyrinth, is a surround sound computer playback composition. The second project, titled Old Windows, New Worlds, is a notated composition for custom midi keyboard controlled surround synthesis instrument. The third project, titled KnownUnknown, is a quasi improvisatory composition for custom audio/video instrument. The fourth project is a notated three movement work for piano solo titled Singing Sweetly from a Spider's Web.

The project as a whole represents a large portion of my recent compositional output. Each individual piece in the series represents a new approach to the use of technology in my compositional practice. The use of subtractive synthesis, microtonality, parametrically controlled stochastically generated musical behaviors and surround sound trajectories are explored in Labyrinth. Live control over a surround sound synthesis paradigm combining granular/sampling techniques with spectrally tuned subtractive synthesis is the primary focus of Old Windows, New Worlds. KnownUnkown is an improvisational performance piece for custom audio/visual instrument where sound and sight combine in direct and parametrically controlled behaviors of tightly coordinated live generated audio and animation. Finally, Singing Sweetly from a Spider's Web is a piano solo composed using techniques for audio analysis and transcription similar to those used in Old Windows, New Worlds combined with stochastic behaviour controls similar to those employed in Labyrinth, and KnownUnknown.

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